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The best thing that could have happened to me?

Posted by Heather Burke  February 21, 2013 01:50 PM

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wolf-creek-groomed.jpgMy friend said picturing me sidelined with a broken leg mid ski season was like taking candy from a kid (or crack from an addict, but I should edit that). Skiing is my thing, for sure. I love it, I write about it all winter (and much of the summer). Downhill skiing kind of defines me, and 90% of my facebook friends and photos. And never before had it been taken away from me. I'd seen it happen to many ski friends and family members including my husband Greg and my beautiful daughter Aspen - who blew their knees skiing. So when the MRI indicated a fractured tibia, a part of me cracked too. I didn't burst into a fit of tears, or get mad (couldn't very well stomp out of the ortho office in a huff). I just went silent - and calculated the Doctor's prescribed six weeks.

Ironically, I injured my knee skiing the Twister Trail (ha, ha, very funny) on day 4 of an 11 day ski media trip. I knew immediately it was bad, that I had done some damage, maybe bruised a bone. But I kept skiing, kept going on our ambitious multi-ski resort road trip. It was hard enough admitting to my husband Greg that I had hurt myself, never mind facing more ski PR people with my situation. "Hi, I'm a professional ski journalist, see my notepad and my knee brace..no really, I'm fine."

So I was confined to groomed cord for the next seven days. These were not doctors orders, just self-preservation. Thankfully Telluride, Durango and Wolf Creek all served up white carpet for me - plus some sweet fluffy powder at Telluride that I was able to float on for some fantastic ski photos by Greg.

I see now how people question my skiing with a fracture (unbeknownst to me) - the photos are all smiles, snow and scenery (no grimace)! Not sure if that makes me a martyr or a maniac? Please don't answer that, its purely rhetorical. Stairs and getting in and out of my ski bindings was harder than skiing, if that's any consolation or explanation. For the record: Greg was my binding enabler, or accomplice.

Two comments caused me the most contemplation:

First, the ski patrol at Telluride said "You have been skiing for 43 years and never been injured? You're pretty lucky." Really?!

Secondly, there was my big brother who said, "Sis, this is actually the best thing that could have happened to you!" What?!

Okay, I get it. Skiers injure their knees. This is my dose of downhill humility, though maybe not lucky or the best thing ever. I will come back, I will demonstrate more compassion for others who have overcome far greater ski injuries than me (shout out to Lindsey Vonn). And I will appreciate the sport I love so much - even more. Just for the record: I already loved skiing a lot! It's my addiction - like candy only sweeter with less calories. Take a run for me. See you on the slopes (3/15, but who's counting?!).

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Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.

Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.

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